Although no car accident is anything to be happy about, there are many types of accidents, each of which has different implications for insurance and coverage. Each type also requires victims to collect unique evidence. Knowing more about the classifications of motor vehicle accidents can help you navigate the confusing world of accident law.
Legal Considerations in Arizona
As with every state, Arizona has its own set of laws regarding vehicle collisions. In Arizona, most claims after an accident are considered to be personal injury claims. With these kinds of claims, liability is largely determined based on which party is deemed most negligent. Arizona has a fault-based insurance system that places responsibility on parties who fail to act with responsible care while driving. Since all drivers are required to take care at all times, failing to do so constitutes negligence and can result in a greater financial burden.
Arizona is also a “comparative negligence” state. After an accident, a claims adjuster attributes fault to all parties in the accident in the form of a percentage. Even parties with partial responsibility are entitled to seek compensation.
It is important to remember that Arizona has a statute of limitations of two years for filing claims. This means that usually you have no more than two years to file a claim for damages or seek compensation for a death.
Kinds of Motor Vehicle Accidents
While you have probably heard plenty of horror stories about insurance premiums increasing astronomically after an accident, there are plenty of situations in which your insurance company shouldn’t increase your payments at all. These are considered “non-chargeable.” Understanding the difference between chargeable and non-chargeable events can give you insight into the workings of insurance companies.
Chargeable events can either cause damage to property, such as a fence post or stoplight, or bodily injury, including death. Normally, these events can increase your costs when you bear 50% or more of the responsibility for the accident.
These incidents usually involve lesser fault and/or damage. When you have a collision with an animal, bird, or flying object, you are normally considered free of responsibility. In some situations, another party may compensate you directly for damages. This is essentially an admission of fault, so you do not have to pay. In unusual circumstances, an emergency worker, such as a police officer, may damage your vehicle by driving unpredictably. This is also unlikely to cause an increase in payments.
Because Arizona’s laws regarding motor vehicle accidents require a detailed understanding of negligence, you should familiarize yourself with the kinds of behaviors that are generally considered negligent. Though you should always act responsibly on the road, another party may try to refute claims you make to your insurance company or emergency workers.
When you have an accident, there are usually numerous pieces of evidence investigators need to piece together to create a picture of what happened. In most cases, a single piece of evidence is incomplete.
Even when there is direct video evidence of your accident, you may still need further evidence from other sources. If, for example, your rear-end collision was recorded on camera, you may not be able to see the other driver texting or using a phone. This is why you should gather as much supporting evidence as possible from as many sources as you can find. These forms of evidence can include:
- Eyewitness accounts
- Police reports
- Video or images
- Pictures of injuries or damage
An important concept to understand is the “burden of proof.” After motor vehicle accidents, the plaintiff, or injured party, is responsible for gathering documents and accounts that substantiate a claim that another party was negligent. Your burden does not stop here, however. You also need to document injuries, treatments, and other damages, such as lost wages after your collision.
Examples of Negligence
In some cases, proving negligence is extremely simple. A drunk driver, for instance, is automatically considered to be driving irresponsibly. For individuals to be considered negligent, they must demonstrably have failed in their duty to act with care on the road. They must also have caused damages or injury in their breach of duty.
Some of the most common examples of negligence are alcohol impairment or distracted driving, such as a driver who makes a text or call on the road. Other instances in which negligence causes motor vehicle accidents include tailgating closely behind another vehicle, driving above the posted speed limit, and driving while overly fatigued.
It may surprise you to learn that the kinds of impacts that result from an accident can help to demonstrate another driver’s negligence. Because some kinds of irresponsible behavior are extremely hard to prove, you should always attempt to obtain physical evidence after a crash. Types of impacts that implicate another person’s fault may include:
Each of these categories of collision occurs far more often when one individual is driving irresponsibly. A rear-end, for example, suggests that another driver was tailgating or driving while distracted. A T-bone, also known as a broadside, suggests that the other driver failed to yield to the right-of-way, whether the marking posted was a stop sign, yield sign, or traffic light. Head-on collisions are commonly caused by intoxicated drivers but may also happen when drivers are distracted by a GPS device.
This is far from a comprehensive list of impact types, so you should check to see if your incident falls under a category insurance companies recognize as negligent. If the event you suffered falls into a more ambiguous category, talk to a knowledgeable attorney.
Getting an Attorney for Motor Vehicle Accidents
After a traumatic accident, you may not have the energy or ability to deal with your insurance company, medical providers, and emergency organizations all at once. This is where an attorney with experience with motor vehicle accidents can help. At Sargon Law Group, we can gather evidence, explore your legal options, and negotiate a fair settlement. Call today for a free consultation.